For April we decided to raise our budget from $30/week to $35/week for a few reasons:
1. We had a lot of company planned in April
2. We are expecting baby #2 in May and I wanted to stockpile quick meals and extras for the new baby.
3. We dramatically reduced our budget in March from $50 to $30 while we were waiting for unemployment to kick in, once it did we were able to add back a few extras.
So how did the $35/week work? Well I am sorry to say we went over by $7! We were actually over a little more than that but I got a few rebate checks that offset the difference. I am really irritated that we went over and can pin that on one thing- laziness.
We used credit cards this month rather than our cash system. I lost my debit card early in the month and have been using the credit card in the meantime. We decided last month my husband would be responsible for getting cash out monthly and he just didn’t get around to it. (Can you tell I’m irritated?) My husband was also in charge of keeping track of how much I spent and as credit cards don’t always post transactions in a timely manner- we had extra transactions came through late.
So we both learned a lesson from the experience- we haven’t had any credit card debt in years and I can see how easy it would be to sink back into the hole! I found with many of my transactions I sort of noticed the total but didn’t really absorb how much I spent. I did a lot of tiny purchases this month and $1 here, $6 there seems so insignificant until you get the bill and realize you spent way more than you thought!
When I have cash in an envelope every time I open it up I can see the amount dwindling and I think I am a lot more careful. I am also more aware of how much I am actually spending- taking the extra seconds to actually count cash makes it really sink in what you have spent.
So now what? We paid the stupid credit card bill immediately of course. I am 100% anti-credit cards and you will never see anything on my blog that recommends using these cards for the cash back offers or whatever. It is too easy to get caught in the trap and pay fees or ring up a balance you can’t pay off. I was once charged $35 for paying my balance early! (Seriously I received a late fee for paying the balance before the 21 day period started- not including the interest rate hike from 6% to 29%!) I know a lot of people make the bonus work for them, but for us it just doesn’t work.
I also went straight to the bank and got out cash for May. No excuses. I decided to stick with $35/week- but deducted the amount we went over ($7) off the top- so rather than $140 this month I have $133. Fortunately CVS is opening in late May and I am hoping that will help with our budget.
So the moral of the story is, you really need to figure out what works for you and stick to it! In our case a cash only system is the easiest way to ensure I stick to my budget.